Rodney Taylor, head of the Animal Management Division, said the increase in demand for various supplies, from towels and blankets to kitty litter and toys, can make budgeting for the summer difficult. Cats ordinarily have their litters in the late spring, so the shelter gets inundated with stray kittens beginning in May and early June, Taylor said.
“It can definitely put a strain on your budgetary numbers,” he said. “We know the trends of the number of cats we pick up during these times, so we have enough funding to operate. But whenever you can get donations, that funding can be used to help in other ways around the shelter.”
The agency also is offering reduced adoption fees for cats — $45 instead of the typical $150 — through Sept. 22 to help control the population at the shelter. And residents who adopt two cats will have the fees waived for the second adoptee.
Erin Wiedmaier, an animal care technician at the county shelter, said overcrowding is not much of a concern, given how quickly kittens get adopted, but supplies are a constant concern, especially towels for cats’ bedding.
“They basically sell themselves, since they’re so young and cute,” Wiedmaier said of the cats. “But we need supplies on a daily basis. We need towels all the time, and they go through toys quickly, too.”
Animal care technician Marie Lloyd said the trickiest part of handling the summer cat rush is ensuring all cats are “temperament tested” and remain well socialized to humans.
“Through temperament testing, we know each cat’s own personality, so we know which cat suits each family,” Lloyd said. “And we don’t want them to lose that socialization. We want them to still want attention, instead of cowering in the corner of the cage.”
Lloyd said employees try to ensure the cats stay receptive to humans by picking them up and playing with them, even if just for a moment, when they go to change a cat’s towels and food.
“We have caretakers here until midnight as well,” she said. “So if they’re done at the end of the day, they’ll go around and play with the individual cats for that last hour.”
Taylor said that even though the donation drives and reduced adoption fee promotions are important in being able to handle summer litters, cooperation and coordination among other shelters and rescue groups also is key.
The county shelter is capable of holding about 100 cats at once, he said. Although a last resort, Taylor said a cat can be euthanized between three and eight weeks after arriving in the shelter if it is not adopted, redeemed by the owner or sent to a rescue group partner.
“We take our hats off to our rescue partners,” he said. “We have several groups that come in and take animals out to foster homes. And something new over the years is that shelters work together now, so if we’re overcrowded, another shelter will say, ‘We have room for 50,’ and take some for us.”
To adopt a cat or donate to the county shelter, call 301-780-7200 or go to www.princegeorgespets4us.com to see adoptable animals or donate online.